152/365 - 3/9/2011The great thing about being a customer for a new car is that it is you sitting in the driver’s seat. While some dealership sales people might not want you to think so, you  call the shots. While painless car-purchase may sound like a contradiction in terms, the determined among us can achieve this minor miracle because – ultimately -we control the process.

Winners when it comes to car deals are those who, in the face of sales pressure, succeed at paying market value or less for a specific vehicle. Even if you’re sitting at a one-price dealership and they refuse to budge, you, the potential purchaser, have all the cards in your hand…you will win eventually if you have patience and stamina.

Some Car-Wise Buying Tips

There are just a few rules to observe if you want to land that perfect deal:

  • Firstly, line up a few establishments to visit, including, preferably, some that have been recommended by acquaintances or by popular social review sites like Yelp.com or DealerRater.com
  • Once there, remember that while the salesperson is stuck all day working at the same dealership, youhave the freedom to walk away. Use this to your advantage.
  • Set a time limit for yourself and adhere to it strictly. Put the salesman under pressure by stating at the outset your intention to spend a specified maximum time (say, 60 minutes) on their premises.
  • Take things up a gear by pointing out what tempting offers Y and Z dealerships are currently running, showing that you are on the horns of a dilemma. With that possibly greatest of all negotiating tools under your belt, the onus shifts to the salesperson to present you with an unbeatably attractive deal.
  • If you’re a cash buyer, ask about paying with your rewards program credit card. You can always pay off the statement at the end of the month, and the points you earn could buy you a plane ticket.

Be A Buyer Who Has Done Their Homework

The best ammunition the purchaser can be armed with is the fruits of research. Know all you can about the model of car you are pursuing, about list prices for the various years. If you are buying brand new, make sure you know the invoice price. [NOTE: Edmunds.com has some price info called True Market Value that can be particularly useful when negotiating the price of a new car – Editor.)

Be prepared to be bold and to commence negotiating by offering under the invoice price. Don’t be tempted to take pity on the salesperson who spins the story that there is little profit for the company in the sale of a new car. While this is often true (since dealerships really make their money from used car sales, parts, and service), it doesn’t matter to you and your transaction. All that matters is the final cost.

Use The Information Revolution

If a used car is what you have in mind, vehicle background checks from Carfax and AutoCheck are well worth taking advantage of…especially because most dealers will provide one or both of these reports to you for free. A vehicle history report enables you to gain details of the history of their prospective wheels, including true mileage, accidents, salvage damage, lemon law claims, as weel as the estimated number of owners. Remember however that Carfax and AutoCheck are only as good as the data they receive;  they’re not a substitute for a physical inspection from your local mechanic.

The final point to keep at the forefront of one’s mind is: be observant. Nothing replaces a thorough personal examination. If you are going to ride around in it, get acquainted with it!

Annie is the frugal blogger for Credit Card Finder, the free Australian credit card comparison tool.

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